ACLJ Launches Campaign Challenging Congressional Legislation Aimed at Restricting Free Speech Rights of Churches and Non-Profit Organizations.
"This is a very troubling development that could drastically affect the mission and operation of churches and non-profit organizations," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, which is opposing legislation in the House and Senate. "This legislation - being pushed by House and Senate leadership - would place severe restrictions on the free speech of pastors and others who communicate about the moral and political issues of the day. By classifying these organizations as 'grassroots lobbying firms,' the churches and non-profit organizations would be under a tremendous burden by being forced to register and report to the federal government. This legislation violates the First Amendment protections afforded to these organizations. This is bad legislation that could become bad law. We are mobilizing on several fronts to challenge this dangerous legislation."
There are two measures under consideration in Congress - H.R. 4682 and S.1 - the two grassroots lobbying bills now being considered in the House and Senate.
The ACLJ is launching a nationwide petition campaign - via email, radio, television, and through its website - to urge House and Senate leadership to reject this legislation. At the same time, Sekulow says the ACLJ supports a newly introduced amendment in the Senate bill (Amendment 20 to S.1) that would eliminate provisions of the Senate bill dealing with grassroots lobbying firms and ensure that churches and many other public interest organizations and individuals would not be subject to lobbying regulations.
Sekulow says he has assembled a legal and legislative team focusing on the problematic legislation. The ACLJ has produced a legal analysis (posted online at www.aclj.org) that details the dangers of this legislation.
"This is a critically important issue that simply cannot be ignored," said Sekulow. "We are confident that Americans will stand with us in large numbers in making it clear to the House and Senate leadership that this legislation is unacceptable."
In addition to battling the legislation in Congress, Sekulow said the ACLJ is preparing to take legal action challenging these measures should they become law.
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice specializes in constitutional law and focuses on religious liberty litigation. The ACLJ is based in Washington, D.C. and is online at www.aclj.org.